Families react to release of NCHS shooter

By Beau Ebenezer

April 30, 2014 Updated May 1, 2014 at 12:29 PM CDT

NORMAL, Ill. -- Chilling memories of a scary situation were rekindled Wednesday night.

The 15-year-old boy who fired a handgun inside Normal Community High school two years ago has been released from state youth prison.

The school went on lock down in September 2012 after the teen fired shots into the ceiling of a classroom filled with students. A teacher managed to tackle the shooter, preventing any injuries.

In court, the boy pleaded to being mentally ill and was sentenced to a state juvenile facility, where he received mental health services.

Now, the state's attorney's office confirms the boy was released early this month.

"With the severity of what happened, we wanted something that was going to have more definiteness to it. We wanted to be able to tell what was going to happen," said McLean County State's Attorney Jason Chambers. "The juvenile side of it, we don't know. They could say that they are going to hold him up to his 21st birthday. They could turn right around in six months and say we are letting him out."

Parents and students are not reacting well to the sudden release of the student. Some said it brings back terrifying memories.

"I was scared because I thought he was running around the school," said Former NCHS Student Megan Vogel. "I thought he was going to come to my classroom. We had to black-out the door so he wouldn't know anyone was in there."

Many families were unaware of the teenager's early April release because of privacy issues.

"It seems a little soon," said Parent Rod Dehart. "Could he actually be rehabilitated on his own in that short of time? It is doubtful."

Some students directly involved with the incident received a letter from the state's attorney's office notifying them of his release.

While some parents are concerned for the community's safety, others do agree with the court's decision to prosecute the boy as a juvenile.

"Putting someone that young into a prison, you are not going to be doing that individual any good, and you aren't going to solve any issues," said Parent Aaron Silva.

The student was expelled from the school after the incident.

However, Unit 5 will still be required to provide services to the boy because he was in the special education program. Some education options include a private facility or a regional alternative school for at risk students.

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